15 January 2001
Boghall GM protesters fined

By FWi staff

A SCOTTISH court has convicted four men of vandalising a field containing GM crops in Midlothian, reports BBC Online.

Mark Ballard, Matthew Herbert, James Mackenzie and Alan Tolmie had denied deliberately destroying the oilseed rape plants at Boghall Farm, Dalkeith in March 1999.

The four said their actions were reasonable, given what they alleged were the potentially grave dangers to the environment.

But, the four were found guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday (15 January) morning.

Ballard, Herbert and MacKenzie were each fined 125, while Tolmie was fined 250.

Afterwards, the men insisted their campaign would continue and told the BBC that they were considering an appeal.

Ballard, 29, a graphic designer from Stockbridge, Edinburgh; Herbert, 28, a researcher from St Andrews; Tolmie, 33, a professional busker from Edinburgh; and Mackenzie, 28, a press officer from Stockbridge, had earlier been found not guilty of obstructing police during the demonstration.

The GM trial was being carried out by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) as part of a UK-wide series of trials.

Professor David Atkinson from the SAC said: “It is a very important verdict for Scottish agriculture and for research in this area.

“We know Scottish agriculture is experiencing difficult times. It needs to be able to explore all the options that are open to it,” he told the BBC.

In September Lord Melchett, then executive director of Greenpeace, and 27 other supporters were cleared of criminally damaging a GM maize crop in Norfolk.

Furious farmers leaders said that the verdict made it questionable whether they could do their job without interference from vandals.